Realm Makers 2019: Recap

Part of being a Writer means socalizing with other writers. Even though we can do so much of that online, it is still important to go to writing conferences, for learning and fellowship.

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My Name tag, note the 7 marking my attendance streak.

Last month I was at Realm Maker’s seventh writers conference for Christian speculative fiction authors. (Curious about year one? Click here.)

Why has it taken me so long to  get a post up about it? Recovery. It is hard for me to be around so many people for so long. It is also hard to put an event like realm Makers into words. (I’ve tried in past years)

For me the highlight this year was meeting bestselling authors Brent Weeks and Terry Brooks.

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For bestselling authors they were both very down to earth. Terry Brooks even stopped to chat with a group of us sitting in the lobby on Sunday evening, after the official conference was over.

Once again I did not have a novel to sell or to pitch to an agent or publisher. But this year I resolve to fix that.

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WTB teaching about balance. 

I learned from Wayne Thomas Batson on how to balance my life and writing. I think it helped. I have been making slow but steady progress which is better than no progress at all. He mostly just drilled into me that books don’t write themselves and if you want to do it you need to make time for it.

Then of course there was the costume banquet. It’s the best reason to go to Realm Makers over any other writers conference. That and Friends.

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Steampunk DC villains!

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I found a doctor!

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And fought a TARDIS

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Steampunk Justice league. I was Batman.

After the conference I went with a group to the City Museum in St. Louis. It is crazy amazing there. It’s like a giant art installation, and it’s never finished they are always adding to it. If you are ever in St. Louis you must go.

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The last great thing about Realm Makers are the book hauls. So many great books and so many great authors, ready to sign them. I had to take an empty suit case just to pack all my books in to take home. 

 

 

Giveaway:

I won some books this year that I already owned. So I got them signed and now I’m giving you a chance to win them.

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Just tell me how many books I have in my suitcase and if you are the closest then I will send you one of the two books pictured above.

Mark of the Raven by Morgan Busse or Breakwater by Catherine Jones Payne.

The first right answer gets to pick and the second right answer gets the left over.

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If it helps the suitcase is 13″ X 21″ X 8″

Email your guess to dolphin18cb@aim.com by August 18. Please put, Realm Makers Suitcase guess, in the subject line so I know it’s an entry.

Legal disclaimer: This giveaway is solely on me and is not sponsored by Realm Makers, WordPress or any of the authors pictured.

 

 

To the Realm of Makers and Back Again

I am back from another year of Realm Makers, the only place to go if you are a Christian, fantasy and science fiction writer.

But, before I tell you more I’m going to update you on my last post. The Escape anthology contest is over and I can now tell you which story was mine.

I wrote the one titled “Raised in Captivity.” It was number eight on the list. I did not win the readers choice award but thank you to anyone who voted for mine. “Raised in Captivity” will still be published in the anthology so it’s all good. The publishing industry is not for the impatient, however, as the anthology publication date is almost a year from now.

The conference was last weekend, August 7 & 8, 2015, in St. Louis, Mo on the UMSL (University of Missouri at St. Louis) campus. This is the same place it was held in 2013.

The Keynote speaker was Robert Liparulo author of the Dreamhouse Kings series. He gave inspired talks. The first one was about the need to, stop worrying about what others think, and to stop doubting that you’re good enough. The second one was the opposite, GO was the message. Go start writing, go do what you need to do.

I did not have time for any sightseeing this year because the conference tried something new, an extra workshop on Thursday afternoon. The Irresistible Novel: by Jeff Gerke. In this class he talked about the brain chemistry of the reader and literally how to make your writing addictive. All this to plug his new book, of the same title; which naturally, sold out. I loved it, Jeff Gerke is an engaging speaker, and he writes exactly how he talks. Every author should have a collection of his books.

Beyond that though, this Early Bird class really helped to extend the Conference experience. It felt like three days instead of two and a half.

This year continued the tradition of the Splickety critique pre-party. During which I was mortified when my submission was read aloud. Some of the feedback was helpful, but 500 words isn’t really enough to get a good critque.

Another new feature this year was the addition of a third track of classes. Though I like having options I will always miss that first year with only one track, everyone went to the same classes and you didn’t have to worry about missing anything. This year featured three main tracks: World building, Editing, and Marketing. In addition to the main tracks there were also electives that also ran in groups of three and ranged in topics from book cover design to dealing with magic in Christian fantasy.

I feel like Editing is where I am in my writing Journey so I chose this course. David Farland was an entertaining speaker, who was very informed on his topic. He even threw in a lecture on what to do when your book is optioned for a movie. However, his anecdotal teaching style made it hard for me to take notes. This is a course where I think I will benefit from purchasing recordings. (Yes recordings are new this year too.) Also I missed a lot of his talk because I was busy attending mentoring appointments.

The highlight, for me at least, was meeting Donita K Paul the author of The Dragonkeeper Chronicles. I love her books so much, that I spent most of my one on one meeting with her, being star struck. I understand that the mentors set aside time in their schedules to talk to me about my writing, but it’s hard for me to talk about my writing, even with people I’m close to. Put me in front of someone I admire and whose own work has been a big part of my life, I freeze up.

One option I am glad I took advantage of was the opportunity to have a mentor critique the opening of my novel. It was an extra fee but worth every penny to be able to sit down with someone who already had feedback for me. I selected L.B. Graham for my mentor, and I would recommend him to anyone looking to do this next year. He is easy to talk with and his critiques were all very constructive, not to mention, absolutely right.

Every year there is a costume/ awards diner on Friday night. This year I dressed up as a Hogwarts student. I had to stand up front when they announced the winners of the anthology contest. You can imagine how uncomfortable I felt.

Saturday night there was a game room in addition to a Nerf war. I chose the game room. It’s easier to talk over games anyway. This was also the night I went around trying to get the rest of my books signed.

My Realm Makers tradition is to always buy more books than I can afford but never as many as I actually want. Sometimes I just have to say maybe next year to a certain book, or author. But yeah, if the Author is there, why not get it signed? In previous years actual book signings had been held. But this year was a giant game of stalk the author.

Thoughts on the conference experience:

After three years you’d think this would be easy for me, but I am very introverted, and I get crowd anxiety. So the first year was great for me, it was small and easy to navigate. The second year was also good, more people but still manageable. This year, attendance exploded. I am happy for the conference but I felt overwhelmed most of the time. Thank you to everyone who was ok with standing in out of the way corners with me.

I always feel torn, I enjoy the experience and I learn a lot, but honestly I feel better after I get home and start reading all the books I bought. I also like the after conference motivation. I have all this feedback to work with, and ideas to try. The hard part is keeping that drive going. I started my novel after the first conference. I finished the first draft after the second one. ( They were less than a year apart, so it’s not as bad as you might think.) After this one I am going to try for a presentable second maybe third draft before next year. My goal is a book to sell at conference five. Ok, maybe conference six.

First Flights

Well i made it back from St. Louis. Realm Makers was Amazing! I had never done anything like that before. Sorry it took so long to write a post.  I do have pictures but they were on 35mm film and now that they are developed I have to scan them to the computer.

After all of my posts against technology does it really surprise anyone that I do not have a digital camera?

So anyway I thought I could use that note to talk about my first plane flight and how my avoidance of techno gizmos made it more enjoyable for me.

First security, this is the most embarrassing thing ever. The stupid full body scanner is so sensitive that it picks up the rivets on your jeans and the metal clasp on my pony tail holder. then you get patted down. Very embarrassing. But at least I didn’t have any electronics to dig out of my bags and place out in the open. Well I had my cell phone but that came off with my belt so no big deal.

During the waiting period electronics are actually encouraged, because the airports now have free WiFi and numerous plugin stations.

But after boarding there is a very short period of time that you can use your devices. The guy beside me grudgingly shut down his I phone. The plane taxied out and then we sat there for like twenty minutes. Now note that my plane was not late arriving in Detroit from St. Louis, this means that they knew ahead of time that we would have to wait. That whole time no electronics could be used.

So I am trying to read my book and the guy beside me is just antsy.

So let this be a lesson: Bring paper. A book a puzzle book buy a news paper if you have to. Your pilot and the person next to you might thank you for it.

Over all flying was pretty mundane. I have been desensitized to motion by riding roller coasters. So the actual flight was no more upsetting than driving in a car. The only thing that really blew my mind was the fact that I flew to St. Louis from Detroit in less time than it took me to drive to the Detroit airport from my house. It’s like Wow! I can go somewhere I have never been before and not have to spend long boring hours behind the wheel to get there.